French Heritage Society Awards $520,400 in Grants
“I hope visitors who have seen the Baptismal Chapel before its restoration, very dark with no nuance, will experience the same emotion I felt after seeing it bright and welcoming once restored. We can imagine the splendor of the Chapel of the Hotel-Dieu fully restored.”
~Isabelle de Laroullière
The Hôtel-Dieu in Lyon, located on the Rhône River, is one of the most visible and historic buildings of the city. It belongs to the Hospices Civils of Lyon and was used as a hospital since its construction in the 17th century until 2010. The hospital space will be entirely rehabilitated in the coming years for public, cultural and commercial use. Part of the hospital complex is an important 17th-chapel redecorated by major artists of the 19th century which is in great need of restoration.
As an incentive for the full restoration of the chapel, the Hospices Civils sought financial support for the South side of the chapel and its five side chapels. One side chapel has already been restored as an example of the splendor of this church and the restoration of the second side chapel, the Baptismal Chapel, is now in progress.
French Heritage Society gave a grant in 2008 for this restoration and was the first private donor for this project. The restoration of the three remaining side chapels on the south side is scheduled for 2014-15 thanks in part to French Heritage Society's grant of $239,400 with the generous support of the Florence Gould Foundation. Sarah de Lencquesaing of the Grants Committee stresses, "Just like its seed grant to the City of Auch's monumental staircase, it is fascinating to see the Gould Foundation give a seed grant to the Chapel of Hotel-Dieu that will have such an impact on a city's development."
This grant will initiate public matching funds, as is always the case with French Heritage Society grants, and highlights the interest of this major building in Lyon's history. This restoration is the starting point for the rehabilitation of the entire Grand Hôtel-Dieu complex, a major urban renewal project in the historic heart of France's second largest city.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, (Old Lyon), the city is recognized for its architectural landmarks, its historical prominence as a silk weaving and textile center and as a gastronomic capital. Lyon has a vibrant economy with chemical, pharmaceutical, biotech, software and start-up industries and was ranked 8th globally and 2nd in France for innovation in 2011. In fact, UNESCO cited Lyon as an "exceptional testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two millennia on a site of great commercial and strategic significance." Culture represents 20% of Lyon's municipal budget today, a figure that will only increase as the restoration of the chapel and the rehabilitation of the Grand Hôtel-Dieu project continue to move forward.
Tradition has it that the Hôtel-Dieu was founded in 542 by King Childebert I and Queen Ultrogothe. Records show that in 1184, the Pontife brothers built a bridge over the Rhône River and annexed a small hospital to house poor and sick travelers. Nothing remains of this original Hôtel-Dieu de Notre Dame where François Rabelais practiced medicine in 1532. Today's Hôtel-Dieu dates from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Hôtel-Dieu Chapel was built between 1637 and 1655 thanks to generous donors. Although its treasures were dispersed during the Revolution, it once again became a place of worship in 1802. Its purpose was twofold: to open the site of the Hôtel-Dieu to the city and to link the chapel with the hospital functions.
Donations allowed for the chapel's redecoration throughout the 19th century. Its baroque decoration, made by Denuelle from 1867 adorns its entire inner surface with trompe l'oeil reliefs and materials. Since then, even after being classified as a Historic Monument in 1941, it had not been restored. It was fully classified as an historic monument in 2012.
In 1802, the Hôtel-Dieu was combined with the Hôpital de la Charité to become the Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL). It embarked, in 2007, on a multi-year, multi-phase, architectural restoration project jointly with the City of Lyon in a reconversion program of the Grand Hôtel-Dieu and a renewal plan for its riverside quarters.
In 2010, the HCL completed transferring all hospital activities from the Hotel-Dieu to other facilities. The collections of HCL are currently in storage and a project is under study for the creation of a museum to house them.
In 2016, the Grand Hotel-Dieu will offer areas for diverse cultural and other activities in an international context, and join the Network of Cities of Gastronomy as designed by UNESCO. With courtyards and gardens open to stroll, surrounding pedestrian areas, and the main access moved to rue Bellecordière, the chapel will be placed at the heart of this iconic compound. A major rehabilitation of the urban center for a future complex comprising commercial, cultural and leisure activities and gardens open to the public will echo the original 17th-century plans by the celebrated architect Soufflot.
The main entrance of the Grand Hotel-Dieu will be next to the Chapel of the Hotel-Dieu. Therefore, the plan begins with the restoration of the Chapel of the Hotel-Dieu with its eight interior chapels. This 8.2 million-euro restoration project has been identified by the City of Lyon and the Architect de Bâtiments de France as the key project to launch the complete rehabilitation program and neighborhood renewal.
The restoration project for the Chapel of the Hôtel-Dieu is overseen by Didier Repellin, Inspecteur Général des Monuments Historiques, Architecte en Chef des Monuments Historique, and an Honorary Director of French Heritage Society and a longtime collaborator, notably for architects awarded the Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship.
Phase III of restoration, currently underway, includes the five south transept chapels. Phase I, the Chapel of the Virgin, began in 2012 and has now been completed. Phase II, restoring the Baptismal Chapel, for which French Heritage Society was the first institution to give a grant (thanks it its 2008 Dîner des Mécènes), began during the summer of 2013 and is nearly completed.
Thanks in part to French Heritage Society's 2014 grant, restoration of the south side chapels, with the Chapels of Saint Joseph and of the Sacred Heart, is underway. The restoration of these chapels is critical as it will serve as a visual incentive for future sponsors. Subsequent restorations will include the choir, the nave, the reliquary and the organ. The restoration will preserve all ornamentation work done in the 19th century as the original decoration had been covered in whitewash at the time.
The Château de La Celle Saint-Cloud, built on the remains of a monastery in 1616, has an illustrious history. Under the reign of Louis XIV, the Duc de La Rochefoucauld purchased the château and completed its construction. In 1748, it was purchased by Madame de Pompadour who resided there in order to follow the construction of her nearby château de Bellevue in Meudon. She brought new embellishments to the estate and entertained King Louis XV there.
In 1750 Jacques-Jérémie Roussel de Rocquencourt, a tax collector, purchased the château and added the pavilion and the north wing. Between 1776 and 1804, its new owner Louis Pierre Parat de Chalandray transformed the park into a "jardin à la française" with the help of the landscape architect Jean-Marie Morel.
In 1804, the subsequent owner, the Vicomte Morel de Vindé received Louis XVIII at the château. At this time, the château de La Celle Saint Cloud had the reputation of having the most important flock of sheep in France. In 1844, Jean-Pierre Pescatore purchased the property. He embellished the park with the Bulher brothers and created the "Alley of the Foreign Trees". He also used the orangery and the three greenhouses to display his precious collection of orchids that attracted famous viewers, notably the Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugenie. The château remained in his Franco-Luxemburgian family for a century.
In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian war, a shell shot from a hill to the west of Paris which housed a military fortress, hit the orangery breaking all the glass windows and devastating the plant collections.
In 1940, the Great Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg stopped at the Château de La Celle Saint-Cloud as she fled the German occupation. The German troops settled in the château during the war. At the Liberation, the family got the château back. Wishing to conserve the château and its park together, they decided to bequeath the property to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose minister of the time was Robert Schuman, under a series of very strict conditions.
Since that time the château has hosted several international events and meetings. In 1957, Queen Elizabeth II came for a lunch, as did the US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961. Today, Flag France has been created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to oversee the restoration campaign and to promote French artists and artisans and international cultural exchanges.
Restoration: façade and statues of the orangery
Located in Clermont-Ferrand, the synagogue is the property of the Jules Issaac Cutlural Center. It is listed on the supplementary registry as a Historic Monument since 2006. The Beit Yacov Synagogue is the only remaining testimonial of Judaism in Auvergne.
This synagogue had a fragmented history, like that of the Jews of Clermont-Ferrand. It was named "Beit Yacov" in memory of Mr. Jacob Safra, whose generosity enabled its acquisition. This temple was built in 1862 during the Second Empire by François-Louis Jarrier. The humble synagogue regrouped refugee families, often Alsatians, during World War II. Despite or because of the tragedy, Judaism under the occupation had seldom seen such a degree of fervor in Clermont-Ferrand.
With the first round-ups of Jews in late 1942, the synagogue ceased to be used. It reopened its doors at the end of the war. In 1966, the place of worship was transferred to an apartment and the synagogue was sold. The building underwent many transformations and its furnishings were dispersed.
In 1990 the synagogue, having belonged to the Freemasons among others, was sold again. A patron bought it to donate to the Clermont-Ferrand Jewish community, which was too poor to restore it. As the only existing synagogue in Auvergne, the building of the former synagogue will, after completion of the restoration work, have a cultural vocation centered around Israelite culture, the history of the Jewish presence in Auvergne and to pay tribute to the Righteous of Auvergne who, during the occupation, were more numerous than in any other region to risk their lives to save the victims of anti-Jewish persecution. This is a major project for the preservation of the Jewish heritage in France.
Restoration: rehabilitation of building and furniture, masonry, carpentry, etc.
The Château du Blanc Buisson was built in the 13th century. Since then, it has belonged to only three families. This explains the very few changes that occurred to its shape and architecture. Built by the Collinet-Lecomte family to protect the local peasants from robbers, the Château du Blanc Buisson is a mix between civil and military architecture dating from the late Middle Ages.
In 1355, the château was attacked by the Royal troops and extensively damaged. It was left unoccupied for more than a century. In 1474, the château changed owners through a wedding and the first restoration campaign started in the Renaissance style but remained very discreet.
In 1801, the château was sold to a new owner who bequeathed it to his niece, Louise de Baudicour in 1870. In 1856, the English Park was created.
During the Second World War, hiding places dating from the Middle Ages were used by the Baudicour family to hide British parachutists from the Germans. In 1981, the current owner inherited the château and started a major restoration campaign.
Restoration: the keep roof and the dormer windows.
The Château de Fontaine-Henry was built in 1200 by the powerful Tilly family, allies of the Plantagenets, successors of William the Conqueror and to the throne of England. The château has never been sold and has been transmitted from generation to generation either by inheritance or by marriage. In 1898, the château became the property of Pierre d'Oilliamson, of Scottish ancestry whose family were members of the Scottish Guards of the King of France. Today, the château is well known all over France for the architectural quality of its décor and the height of its roofs.
At the beginning of the Hundred Years War, the owner at the time, Guillemette de Tournebu, a member of the Tilly family, decided to reinforce the defenses of the château and at the same time modernize the residential part of the château by opening up large windows.
At the end of the war, the new owners, the Lords of Fontaine, members of the Harcourt family who had remained faithful to the King of France, undertook major transformation of the château in order to highlight their rank among the French aristocracy. They followed the architectural styles of the time: Flamboyant Gothic, first and second French Renaissance. The château's roofs date from this time and are still among the highest in France with wooden frames 52 feet high.
Restoration: the terrace over looking the river on the Eastern façade. Built in the end of the 19th century above medieval vaulted cellars, the terrace suffers from important water infiltrations that weaken the cellars and the entire structure of the château and threaten the salon's boiseries and decors.
Built in the 12th century, the Château de Hautségur overlooks the Ardèche Valley and was originally a watchtower for the château de Ventadour located a hundred yards away to the east. It faces the Barutel bridge that has been part of a network of roads since Roman times.
Partially destroyed during the Wars of Religion, it was reconstructed at the end of the 16th century by Lord Jean de Langlade who added the watch turret, who resided in the château from 1591 on. The watchtower became a real château during its reconstruction in the 16th century. The added watch turrets were damaged during the French Revolution.
It remained in the family until 1752 before being sold to the Neyrand family and being renamed Hautségur. Since the 18th century, numerous families owned the château and the estate had been divided between several owners.
In 2012, the current owner succeeded in reunifying the entire estate after two years of negotiations with the various owners.This illustrates the difficulties faced by châteaux owners to preserve inherited estates – a critical first-step before restoration work can even begin.
Restoration: the northeast watch turret, the last one to be restored
The Château de la Rivière was built by the first chancellor d'Aligre in the early 17th century on the site of a former house surrounded by moats. Born in 1559, Etienne d'Aligre was a promenient statesman. President of the Assembly of the city of Chartres, he entered the Great Counsel of the King and became very close to Henri IV.
In 1610, the king named Aligre intendant for Charles de Bourbon, the king's cousin and tutor of his son Louis de Bourbon. King Louis XIII asked him to sit on his State Counsel. In 1624, he was nominated Attorney General and then Chancelor of France. Accused of being too weak in dealing with the conspiracies against the king led by his brother Gaston d'Orléans, Etienne d'Aligre was disgraced by the Cardinal of Richelieu and left the Royal court for the Château de la Rivière where he died in 1635. His son Etienne d'Aligre III also had a very successful career at the royal court.
The château was built with local materials, bricks, grison and roussard stone. Its architecture is pure and simple. Etienne d'Aligre II had the left wing built (1638) and the entrance pavilion (1629). His son had the right wing built (1643) and the rest of the common buildings. The Château de la Rivière belonged to the Aligre family until 1926.
During the Second World War, it housed a school for girls. Between 1954 and 2009, the château belonged to a well-known family working in cinema and several famous actors came to visit the château. In 2009, Edouard de Vitry purchased the château and started its restoration.
Restoration: the access bridge and a collapsed moat wall
The history of the Château de Lassay is linked to a legend. The church on the site where the first château was built is the resting place of a saint who served as a model for the medieval author Chretien de Troyes' Sir Lancelot.
The first château was built in the end of the 11th century by the Baron de Mayenne to resist to his powerful neighbor, the Duke of Normandy, who had just conquered most of Great Britain.
Badly damaged during the Hundred Years War, the château was completely dismantled in 1422. In 1457, after the region returned to the French crown, the owner was allowed by the king to rebuild the château which remains today a rare example of 15th-century military architecture.
Several members of the family were quite prominent in their day. In 1600, Charlotte du Tillet was an important figure at Henri IV's royal court. The third Marquis de Lassay was protected by Madame de Maintenon. His tumultuous love life inspired Marivaux's "Vie de Marianne". His son Léon became the lover of the Duchess of Bourbon, the daughter of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. He supervised the construction of the Palais Bourbon (today the National Assembly) for her. He had his own hôtel particulier built next to it in Paris by the architect Gabriel, the Hôtel de Lassay that is now the residence of the President of the National Assembly.
In the early 20th century, the new owner, the Marquis de Beauchesne, decided to return the fortress to it medieval simplicity and dismantled the Louis XIV wing built above the barbican. Today, the château is a candidate, with 20 other historic sites of the region, for the UNESCO classification as a World Heritage Site.
Restoration: The Lavoisier tower, the largest of the five towers, built in the 15th century and never modified since. It roof was been badly damaged by the 1999 storm and needs restoration.
The château de Rochemontès was built in the 16th century by the du Bourg family whose members created a dynasty in the Languedoc Parliament. In 1684, the château entered the current owner's family by the marriage between Gabriel Amable du Bourg and Catherine de Lombrail. She was the granddaughter of Paul Ricquet, the architect of the Canal du Midi. Henry de Roaldes, the current owner, represents the 11th generation of the same family to possess the château.
The estate is composed of a château in the Louis XIII style flanked with four angle towers, common buildings, a chapel and an orangery. The buildings stand in the middle of a 10- hectare park "à la française" overlooking the Garonne River.
A nymphaeum, a rarity, located in the park was a monument in ancient Greece and Rome consecrated to the nymphs. The garden structures were originally natural grottoes, which legend designated as the homes of the local nymphs. The grottoes sometimes also served to supply water. Subsequently, artificial grottoes took the place of natural ones. Facing south, the nymphaeum closes off a pedestrian alley in the park. It was built in brick and stone in the Louis XV style and composed of three niches surmounted by a sculpted element in stone. In the past, each niche had a little basin and a water jet.
Restoration: the masonry of the nymphaeum
The German army occupied the town of Saint Lô on June 17th, 1940. Being a strategic crossroads, Saint-Lô was almost totally destroyed during the Battle of Normandy in World War II, earning the title of "The Capital of the Ruins" from Samuel Beckett. It was even questioned whether to rebuild it or to leave the ruins intact as a testament to the bombing.
The 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings this June, which paved the way for the liberation of Normandy and then all of Europe, once again focused the attention of the world on this area of beachheads and countryside which has come to symbolize sacrifice for a greater good, but also the lasting values of friendship and brotherhood.
The French and American Memorial Hospital embodies that tradition as well as the efforts to move beyond the War in the 1950s, while still caring for the wounded, and usher in an era of medical progress with what was at that time the largest hospital in Europe. It has paved the way for modern hospitals since WWII.
When it opened in May 1956, it was commonly referred to by experts as "the most modern hospital in France or in Europe" and it still strives to be so. Vast grounds, open spaces, wide corridors and south-facing rooms were all incorporated into the modern advanced design of the Memorial Hospital by the French-American architect Paul Nelson.
The hospital is also distinguished by the presence of fine art and inlays into its walls. Much of the artwork is by Fernand Léger, a painter from Lower Normandy. His contribution included the multicolored windows and he was also the designer of the great mosaic near the main entrance. The mosaic is a memorial to the American soldiers who fell during the liberation of the city.
The hospital was built and is still partly funded by money from the US. It is undergoing major restoration and modernization of its facilities. Parts of the hospital, including the Fernand Léger mural, are classified as a Historic Monument since 2008.
Restoration: Fernand Léger mural – a memorial to American soldiers who lost their lives to liberate the city of Saint Lô. The mosaic pays homage to peace and Franco-American friendship. In a sign of unanimous solidarity, all of French Heritage Society's Chapters voted to support this highly symbolic project.
The jardin de Silière is a rare example of a 17th-century park. This three-hectare "jardin à la française" has a "romantic promenade" added in 1830. In the geometry of the park, its use of water, the box tree beds and its statues, the influence of André Le Nôtre can be felt, if not the hand of Le Nôtre himself. Silière is a hominoid park. From the bust of Louis XIV, the park stretches beyond. One stands at the "head" of the park.
The Allée de l'Être and the Allée d'Or are the collarbone of the park. They rest on a basin, the "pelvis", from where start the double lime tree alleys the "legs". The park is surrounded by dry stone walls that have been restored in the 20th century by young people of the village who relearned this ancient technique of construction.
The Château de Silière and its parks were purchased by architect François Bertrand in 1812. His only daughter bequeathed it to her own daughter who married Mr. Massin. Four generations of Massins have overseen Silière. In 1972, when Pierre Massin retired, he and his wife managed Silière. Their sons inherited the property, but renounced running it in 2010 due to the difficulty involved. Their sister and her husband, Robert Sauvegrain purchased the brothers shares and have run Silière since 2012.
Restoration: a part of the dry stone wall and a stone arch in the park
The present château was rebuilt in the mid-17th century on the ruins of an ancient medieval château. It has belonged to the same family since the mid-13th century. All three of the Thy brothers saved King Louis IX (Saint Louis) from what could have been a fatal attack with a sword during the 7th Crusade.
The family motto then became: "Loyal in Adversity". The family belongs to the Society of the Cincinnati as Alexandre de Thy participated in the American War of Independence and fought at the Battle of Chesapeake Bay as commander of the ship "Le Citoyen". The younger generation has actively and enthusiastically assumed its role in the restoration and management of the château, a U-shaped building surrounded by a moat. The central body is flanked by two rectangular pavilions, and completed by two wings ending with round towers. Its "Grand Vestibule" is a spacious and bright hall opening onto the park.
Restoration: carpentry and roofing of the northern façade of the central building
Classified as a National Historic Landmark in 1973 and owned by the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Nathaniel Russell House's history provides a window into the city's past while also demonstrating the Foundation's commitment to preserving the Lowcountry's built and cultural environment.
For two centuries, visitors have admired the grand Federal-style town house of the prominent merchant from Rhode Island, with over 50,000 patrons from across the world visiting the house annually.
In addition to the lasting French influence on Charleston's culture which was deeply felt by Nathaniel Russell and other owners of the home, other French influence includes:
The Drawing Room, one of the most astounding rooms within the museum house, was wallpapered with an expensive paper, probably imported from France or England and the two-mirrored panels, which imitate the windows, are part of the original design scheme. Paint analysis revealed that the plinth blocks were faux painted to imitate lapis lazuli and the cornice in this room and the drawing room were dramatically painted with ox blood red and grisaille, a style of painting using grey tints.
Drawing rooms were considered the most appropriate rooms to display the picture collections of fashionable Charlestonians. Paintings described as "fancy pictures" in the period, would have been either imported from Europe and sold by local art dealers or purchased by the family during a Grand Tour. Currently, the French engraving "Apollo et Les Muses" by Jules Romain (c. 1816) hangs above the mantel.
This specific project is of significant importance to the Historic Charleston Foundation and the material and external aesthetics of the Nathaniel Russell House (c. 1808) and involves a complex cleaning and repainting of the exterior wood cornice on the main house, which incorporates a custom, multifaceted scaffolding and paint containment system.
The cornice, which is original to the house, has not been cleaned and repainted since Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Due to the intricacy and expertise of the project, the Foundation's maintenance staff does not have the expertise nor required scaffolding to complete the project to its desired needs without contracting Koozer Paints, one of the only companies available to complete such work in 2014.
Restoration: cleaning and repainting of the exterior wood cornice on the main house